My preference is to get my top prospect list out before Spring Training starts. David is also doing a list of the top 25 prospects. Releasing mine while his is still in progress is less than ideal. But this is what we have and I ask you to forgive me for any confusion this creates. You can keep it straight because mine is 50 players long with shorter entries, while David’s is 25 with longer write-ups.
My opinion is that while the Mets don’t have a great farm system, they don’t have anyone embarrassing in their top 10. Now the pessimists might say that their top 10 is made up entirely of guys who would be in the 8-10 range for a good system. Haters gonna hate, I suppose. Let’s see how the injured guys fare in the upcoming season, how the 2017 draft picks do and which guys from a reasonably deep international free agent pool signed in the past few years step forward.
On to the list!
50. Tony Dibrell – A fourth-round pick in ’17, Dibrell was an All-Star in the Cape Cod League in 2016, where he fanned 36 batters in 39.1 IP and had a 1.63 ERA. Has a four-pitch arsenal and sits in the low 90s. Dibrell wrote a nice article on his experiences in his first year of pro ball.
49. Ali Sanchez – Two-way backstop hasn’t hit yet but since catchers have odd development patterns, there’s still hope. Nabbed 48% of runners trying to steal last year.
48. Steve Villines – Had 41 Ks and 1 BB in 27.1 IP of short-season ball in his draft year. Sidearmer has both deception and movement.
47. Gregory Guerrero – U.S. debut did not go well but highly-touted player just turned 19.
46. Colin Holderman – 6’7 righty bounced back from a labrum injury to pitch in 37 innings. Has hit 97 mph.
45. Jaison Vilera – Venezuelan native put up a 1.88 ERA and a 0.963 WHIP in 62.1 IP in the GULF at age 20.
44. Matt Cleveland – Connecticut native is raw but allowed just 13 H in 24.2 IP in the GULF.
43. Christian James – 19 year old finished fifth in the APPY with 56 Ks.
42. David Roseboom – A foot injury helped derail his season. Remains a top LOOGY candidate.
41. Corey Taylor – Struggled with BABIP but finished year strong.
40. Chris Viall – 6’9 righty bounced back from elbow surgery. Last four games he had 17 IP, 4 BB, 20 Ks and a .635 OPS against. My favorite sleeper candidate on the Mets’ prospect lists.
39. Jhoan Urena – I didn’t rank him last year and I’m still more bearish on him than just about anyone. But he was held back by his home park in 2017, where he had an OPS nearly 300 points below his road mark, and he heads to Binghamton, which holds out the hope for a big season in 2018.
38. Wuilmer Becerra – Had a disappointing year at the bat in his second season in SLU, hitting for neither average nor power. Too soon to write him off completely but he is in desperate need of the Binghamton Bump.
37. Matt Blackham – Missed 2016 with elbow injury but came back to dominate as a closer in the SAL last year. Old for his level and will have to make up time but guys with a 13.0 K/9 and a sub 1.000 WHIP get a longer leash.
36. Luis Carpio – In a system filled with talented middle infielders, Carpio had a very disappointing season and may face a make-or-break year in 2018.
35. Jamie Callahan – Hard thrower but major league hitters did damage against his slider.
34. Rigoberto Terrazas – Switch-hitter posted an .898 OPS but it was fueled by his home park, where he notched a 1.123 mark, compared to a .663 mark in road venues.
33. Hansel Moreno – Switch-hitter earns raves for his defense and he had a .903 OPS against RHP last year.
32. Jeremy Vasquez – Florida native raked in Kingsport, with a .905 OPS but wasn’t nearly as good after a mid-season promotion to Brooklyn, where he had a .657 OPS.
31. Edgardo Fermin – 19 year old split time between KPT, where he hit very well, and BRK, where he didn’t hit much at all. Is a plus defender at both 2B and SS.
30. Walter Rasquin – 5’9 infielder put up an OPS 133 points higher than team average for Brooklyn.
29. Wagner Lagrange – After a forgettable U.S. debut in 2016, Lagrange showed both pop and patience last year, as he put up .839 OPS split between Kingsport and Brooklyn.
28. Patrick Mazeika – Got off to a great start with the bat, hitting for both average and power. But over his final 274 PA for SLU, he had a .245/.358/.305 line. Defense is a question mark.
27. Mickey Jannis – In his second season in BNG, he shaved two runs off his ERA. Followed up with a strong AFL, where he gave up just 1 ER in 12 IP. The knuckleballer would rank higher but Mets removed him from 40-man roster, which has to factor in.
26. Tomas Nido – Jumped on everyone’s prospect list in 2016, when he had a home OPS 248 points higher than his road mark. His 2017 hitting reverted to normal H/R splits and he posted a .643 OPS overall. He had a nice .762 OPS versus LHP and is considered a good defensive backstop and you can carve out a long career in the majors with that combo, although likely not as a starter and certainly not as the star that some tried to make him out to be this time last year.
25. Jacob Rhame – Hard thrower showed excellent control in Triple-A but 7 BB in 9 IP in the majors.
24. Gerson Bautista – Reliever with triple digit heat threw strikes once acquired by the Mets. Has something clicked or is it just a small sample?
23. Gavin Cecchini – I think he’ll hit if given a shot but it doesn’t seem like the Mets share that point of view.
22. P.J. Conlon – Got off to a solid start but once he struggled in mid-year, the Mets were a little too eager to move him to the bullpen. His HR rate jumped significantly last year, so Las Vegas could be a problem.
21. Adonis Uceta – His move to the bullpen in ’17 paid off handsomely as Uceta had a 27-game scoreless streak. Another guy consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball, he had a 10.1 K/9 and a 0.905 WHIP in a season that started in Lo-A and ended in Double-A.
20. Juan Uriarte – Perhaps the toughest player in the system to rank. The 19 year old excelled offensively and defensively last year. But lots of people did well for the team in Kingsport in 2017. Was the team stacked with talented players or was there just something in the water there last year? It will be very interesting to see where the Mets start him in ’18. Will he go for another year in a short-season league? Or will they have him skip Brooklyn and go to Columbia? If he comes anywhere close to his 2017 numbers in a full-season league, he’s a top-five prospect.
19. Tyler Bashlor – A TJ surgery survivor, Bashlor continued to put up great K numbers last year. He doesn’t throw as hard as Bautista but 97-98 is plenty of gas. If he can get his walks under control, he’s a future closer. In 14.2 IP after a late promotion to Double-A, he had 4 BB and 23 Ks.
18. Adrian Hernandez – It may seem like all the Mets do is grab shortstops among their high profile international signings. But Hernandez is a power-hitting outfielder with the athleticism to play center field, at least initially.
17. Anthony Kay – The 31st player selected in the 2016 Draft, he missed 2017 after undergoing TJ surgery.
16. Harol Gonzalez – After getting knocked around in his first five starts, Gonzalez limited opponents to a .658 OPS over his next 15 games, while recording a 2.8 K/BB ratio. He’s an undersized righty who doesn’t throw hard but he’s got a wide mix of pitches and everyone raves about his makeup.
15. Nabil Crismatt – He’s got a great changeup and has excellent control. Is that enough?
14. Jordan Humphreys – Was well on his way to a storybook year until his season ended with TJ surgery in late August. He’s expected to miss all of 2018.
13. David Thompson – Had an .889 OPS in Binghamton and a .635 mark in road parks.
12. Justin Dunn – A shoulder injury and a 4.5 BB/9 ruined Dunn’s 2017.
11. Desmond Lindsay – Got off to a terrible start, mostly fueled by a dismal performance in his home park. Finally started to hit and then was sidelined by an injured elbow that required surgery. Staying on the field has been a problem but his .281/.397/.521 line in road parks shows what could be if he ever played a full season.
10. Luis Guillorme – A star defensive player, Guillorme had an impressive .376 OBP in Double-A. Plus he performed better on the road (.767) than at home (.632) – not getting the Binghamton Bump that Thompson did.
9. Ronnie Mauricio – Got the highest bonus ever given by the Mets to an international free agent. Is touted as a star defensive shortstop but the video I’ve seen he looks like a future outfielder. Reminds me of Alfonso Soriano.
8. Thomas Szapucki – Had TJ surgery and is expected to miss a good chunk of 2018.
7. Peter Alonso – Had .367/.448/.651 line in 125 PA versus LHP.
6. Marcos Molina – His BNG numbers look underwhelming but after struggling initially, he put up a 7-stretch start where he had a 2.80 ERA, limited opponents to a .578 OPS and had a 3.6 K/BB ratio. Seems to have fallen into what John Sickels calls, “prospect fatigue,” where guys underrate people because they’ve been around for a while and the prospect hounds are ready for the next new thing.
5. David Peterson – Had a breakout year in his final collegiate season that made him a first-round pick. Just like Dunn the year before.
4. Chris Flexen – His poor results in the majors have overshadowed his excellent results in the minors.
3. Corey Oswalt – Has ever a player in the high minors put up a year with a 2.28 ERA, 1.176 WHIP and a 2.98 K/BB ratio and been met with a shrug from the fan base? Especially one who can hit 95 and has a full repertoire?
2. Mark Vientos – Second-round pick had a .591 OPS in his first 91 PA. His final 120 PA produced a .303/.342/.468 line. Just turned 18.
1. Andres Gimenez – Overall numbers don’t look like much but it was as he was making his U.S. debut at age 18 in a full-season league.
These lists are always subjective and no matter who makes them, there are always ones where you look back at and laugh at some of the rankings. With the understanding that they are miles away from correct, I feel good about the top 20. But the rankings after that seem even more subjective than normal. It feels like you could swap anyone on the list from 21 down to 50 with another guy and it wouldn’t look really wrong
Some guys not ranked that you may find curious:
Phillip Evans & Jeff McNeil – My guess is that Cecchini gets the first infield opportunity if an injury arises, at least until T.J. Rivera is ready to come back. And Matt Reynolds is still around, too. It’s a numbers game and the numbers are simply against these two, neither of which are on the 40-man roster. And there is a wealth of infield talent coming up behind them, too. It’s next to impossible to see these guys getting any meaningful ABs in a Mets uniform.
Kevin Kaczmarski – I guess he still has a shot to make the majors because of the lack of depth with outfielders in the upper minors. But let’s be honest – he didn’t exactly set Double-A on fire last year with his .739 OPS as a 25 year old. And if the Mets had to make a move to add an OFer, this would be the appropriate time to go dumpster diving and look for the veteran who was good three years ago.
Cameron Planck – Intriguing high school arm has yet to throw a professional pitch after being drafted by the Mets in 2016. They gave the 11th-rounder a $1 million and one signing bonus, making him a high-risk, high-reward kind of guy. Maybe he’s Steven Matz and remains healthy enough to make the majors, albeit with injury concerns every step of the way. Or maybe the lost development time prevents him from ever ironing out his control/mechanics issues. Would love to be wrong about this one.
Drew Smith – Yes, he throws really hard and no position is a minor league guy more likely to get a handful of MLB appearances than as a reliever. But the fastball is very straight and until he develops a reliable off-speed pitch that he can throw for strikes, it seems that guys like Bautista, Callahan, Rhame, et al. will be the ones to get a shot.
Some names to keep in the back of your mind – Ranfy Adon, Kenneth Bautista, Quinn Brodey, Yeizo Campos, Stanly Consuegra, Bryce Hutchinson, David Marcano, Austin McGeorge, Wilmer Reyes and Kyle Wilson.